Huggins Words Hit Home
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Brady Demasi had spent his Friday night watching West Virginia overcome a rather dismal performance, at least by the standards set for the nation’s No. 7 team, erasing a 7-point halftime deficit to win its Big 12 opener.
Then, as so many do, he checked out what Bob Huggins said in his post-game news conference and on the radio, cherishing each of the words from above.
See, Brady Demasi is a West Virginian.
He’s also a coal miner.
It’s been 11 years now working the mines, currently traveling from his home just outside Morgantown up to the Cumberland Coal mines near Blacksville.
What did those words, the understanding of what the people of West Virginia are like, of what drives them and what, Huggins says, drives his team … what did it all mean to Brady Demasi?
“As a West Virginian and a coal miner, it shows the heart of the state and the respect and love for us and the state he represents and is from,” Demasi said on Saturday morning after that 85-79 victory, the Mountaineers’ 12th in a row.
“I guess it’s true. There’s a lot of the state that is not afforded a lot of the opportunities that other states and places may get, yet we continue to fight through that and survive and continue to do whatever is necessary for us to better ourselves and fulfill our life’s dreams and goals.
“I guess that’s a little bit of what he means there,” Demasi concluded.
That is exactly what Huggins means. He may have been one of the lucky ones who avoided working in the mines, but he couldn’t avoid the spirit of the people who do and of the state that has always had to fight for whatever it wants.
It doesn’t come from the outside when you live in West Virginia, but there is a great deal of self-respect from within that drives the people of the state to do what they can to be as good as they can be.
They realize that while the national media’s projection of the state may not be flattering, the accomplishments and, more important, the style of the state university’s athletic teams is a source of pride to everyone.
“Last night, it wasn’t one of the best games they ever played, but they played well enough to win, well enough to get the job done,” Demasi said.
He said it proudly, knowing it gave the people of the state something to latch onto.
“That’s what Huggins is hinting at there,” he said. “Any time he or any of the football or basketball players mention that they love the state and represent it, it’s a big thing. You hear that from a lot of the guys and that’s what’s really nice. They all love to play for WVU.”
And Demasi says it isn’t just paying lip service to the people, saying what they want to hear.
“I’m sure there are players at other schools that say that, but these guys aren’t playing just for WVU, like Huggins says, they are playing for the state of West Virginia,” Demasi said. “You hear that a lot. That just shows the true character and nature of the kids that we bring in, that play for the school and play for the state.”
You see it every year as players come in from the outside and adopt West Virginia as home, players like Bruce Irvin or John Flowers or Truck Bryant, guys who becomes sons of the adopted states.
And no, they don’t know the work that the miners do or others in related industries, for playing basketball is hardly going down into the deep, dark mine, but, in a way, Demasi says they are all brothers.
“It’s all hard work. It’s all earned through blood, sweat and tears,” he said.